Easy Tater Tot Casserole
Hello my friend! Welcome back to my kitchen. Step in out of the rain and cold and let’s chat over this Easy Tater Tot Casserole Recipe, shall we?
How are we already into the month of November? Either the days are getting shorter or I’m moving slower. Not sure which is happening but this year has absolutely flown by in a blur!
I hope you had a happy and safe Halloween, and speaking of Halloween, I wanted to share with you a special memory I have of a Halloween as a child.
First, let me say that my childhood involved a lot of casseroles. Like, a lot. I grew up in North Eastern Oklahoma and living in the South, you naturally grow up eating casseroles of various kinds.
I have also had a deep residing love for tater tots my entire life – probably my favorite childhood food and also probably why I’ve never been thin and trim! haha! 😛
This particular story takes us back to Halloween night when I was about 8 or 9 years old.
Mom had made a hearty dinner of Tater Tot Casserole and probably Green Bean Casserole too since that was also one of my favorites, and we had just decided to make candy apples.
It’s important to note that neither one of us had ever attempted candy apples before, so we really didn’t know what we were doing.
However, we purchased a little boxed kit from the store so we figured it couldn’t be that hard right? Just follow the instructions on the box and soon we would have delicious, juicy, candy apples. Or so we thought (and hoped!)
Tater Tot Casserole Recipe and Memories
I think we were supposed to have a candy thermometer for the candy melting process, but surely we could do this without one, right?
I stirred and stirred until everything was melted, then let it simmer a little more, just for good measure. Surely that would take these candy apples from good to great!
We dipped the apples in the melted candy, rolled them in crushed peanuts, then place them on waxed paper to set up.
We enjoyed a little more Tater Tot Casserole while we waited and my little 9 year old self was in heaven.
Does it get any better on Halloween night than homemade Tater Tot Casserole and candy apples? I certainly didn’t think it could!
After what seemed like hours, the candy apples were finally ready to eat.
Mom and I dug in with great gusto, taking a huge first bite so that we could savor the flavor and juiciness of our very own homemade culinary delight.
As we bit into the sour apples and began to chew, it quickly became apparent that something was wrong – very, very, wrong.
I realized after about the first bite that I could not open my jaw. My teeth had become fused together from the over-cooked candy and I was set upon by a sudden and intense form of candy-induced lock jaw.
I looked over at Mom with panicked widened eyes and realized she was experiencing the same horror.
We both gestured wildly, making little grunts and moans (the only sounds we could issue forth from our tightly locked teeth) and I just remember thinking, “I am going to be stuck like this forever!”
You can never imagine the horror a woman or girl experiences when she realizes she can no longer talk, unless you’ve been there yourself. 😛
The Basics of Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole
I don’t recall how we ended up getting our teeth un-stuck from my “trick” candy apples, but we did finally manage it some how.
The joke was definitely on us that night when our treat turned into a trick! haha!
It’s a good thing we had Tater Tot Casserole on hand because that’s about the only thing we could feel safe putting into our mouths for the next few days after that horrific experience.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve never tried making candy apples again and it took my mom 20 years to attempt it again herself.
Some foods will just scar you for life – thankfully this Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole isn’t one of them! 😉
For this Tater Tot Casserole, you’ll want to start out with 1 pound of extra lean ground beef.
Place your ground beef in a skillet, turn the heat on medium, and use a meat muddler or spatula to break it into small pieces.
How to Make Tater Tot Casserole with Ground Beef
As the beef begins to cook, season it with 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder and one dash of ground black pepper.
If you love onions, you can add in 1/4 of a diced sweet onion that has been sauteed.
My husband won’t eat a dish if he finds onions in it so I always use onion powder or dried minced onions for the flavor.
Perfectly Browned Ground Beef
As the beef cooks, continue to break it into small pieces with a spatula or meat muddler.
Once the meat is cooked, drain off any grease that might remain.
It’s important to add here that you can also use ground turkey or ground venison in place of the lean ground beef.
If you want to make a tater tot breakfast casserole you can replace the ground beef for 1 pound of breakfast sausage.
Ingredients for Tater Tot Casserole
As you might’ve already guessed, our first ingredient to start out with is 1 pound of cooked and seasoned ground beef.
Or if you preferred, 1 pound of cooked ground turkey, ground venison, or breakfast sausage.
Place your ground meat in a large (very large) mixing bowl.
The Best Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
The Very Best Tater Tot Casserole Recipe has to have…tater tots!
Add 2 pounds of frozen tater tots to the mixing bowl containing your ground meat.
Yes, you can (and should) add these tater tots in still frozen.
If you try to thaw them before hand they will end up crushed and more like hash browns.
Quick Tater Tot Bake Recipe
After combining your tater tots with the cooked, ground beef, add in 1 family sized can of Healthy Cream of Chicken Soup.
If you don’t have Cream of Chicken Soup on hand, you can replace it with Cream of Mushroom Soup or combine the two to get the amount you need.
Step by Step Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
Now that you’ve added in the Healthy Cream of Chicken Soup, add in 1 cup of sour cream.
If you don’t like sour cream you can replace it for a healthier plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
Seasoning Easy Tater Tot Casserole
Almost all of your ingredients for this Easy Tater Tot Casserole are in place, so now that’s spice things up a little with some seasonings.
Add in 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole
After your seasonings have been added, grate 2 cups worth of mild cheddar cheese.
You can also use sharp cheddar cheese if your prefer, and if you don’t like cheddar, American or Colby cheese can also be used.
Easy Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole
Add the two cups of freshly shredded cheddar cheese to your large mixing bowl filled with ground beef, tater tots, sour cream, Cream of Chicken soup and seasonings.
It’s looking good already!
Easy Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
Now that all of the ingredients for this Easy Tater Tot Casserole have been added to your large mixing bowl, it’s time to stir it all together!
With the combination of frozen tater tots and other ingredients, you really might have to put some effort into getting this completely stirred and mixed together.
Baked Tater Tot Casserole
Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour the Tater Tot Casserole mixture into the casserole dish.
Use a spoon or spatula to spread the mixture out into the dish so that everything is distributed evenly.
How to Cook a Tater Tot Casserole
Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until completely cooked through.
You cant to make sure the cheese gets completely melted and the tater tots are thawed and hot all the way through.
The Best Side Dishes for Tater Tot Casserole
Once the cooking time is complete, carefully remove the tater tot casserole from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
We love to serve our Easy Tater Tot Casserole with a house salad and green beans, or cooked beets, whole kernel corn, corn on the cob, roasted carrots, green peas, or steamed broccoli.
Really, this Easy Tater Tot Casserole Recipe can be served with just about anything!
Sometimes we even top our Tater Tot Casserole with chili, diced onions, extra shredded cheese, and sliced jalapenos with a drizzle of Ranch Dressing.
Oh my word y’all, it is SO GOOD like that! Try it if you haven’t already. You will love it, I’m sure! 😉
Freezer Friendly Tater Tot Casserole Instructions
It might come as a surprise to you that this Tater Tot Casserole is actually very freezer friendly.
This was one of my old standby freezer dinners when I meal prepped for my son’s soon arrival.
Here’s what you need to do to make this Freezer Friendly Tater Tot Casserole:
Assemble the casserole like normal but place it in a disposable, foil 9×13 cake or casserole pan.
DO NOT bake the casserole! Cover the top tightly with foil and label it with the name of the dish, date, and cooking instructions.
This casserole is good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to cook it, remove from the freezer, unwrap it, and place it in the oven at 350F. It will likely need to cook for 45-55 minutes but there is no need to thaw beforehand.
Cook the tater tot casserole until it is completely thawed and cooked through, then enjoy!
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
As always, I want to thank you for spending time with me today in my kitchen.
I have sure enjoyed having you here!
I hope the rest of your day is filled with fun and laughter and that your candy apples are nice and tender.
We already know your Tater Tot Casserole is going to be good, so no worries there. 😉
Easy Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
Tater Tot Casserole is a flavorful, cheesy, comfort food dish. Filled with savory tater tots, seasoned ground beef, and melted cheddar cheese, this casserole is sure to please the entire family!
- 1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey or venison) cooked
- 2 lbs frozen tater tots
- 1 family sized can Healthy Cream of Chicken Soup
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper plus one dash
- 1/2 tsp onion powder divided
Brown the ground beef in a skillet, seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder and a dash of ground black pepper. Use a spatula or meat muddler to break the meat into small pieces.
Once the meat is cooked, drain any remaining grease and pour the meat into a large mixing bowl.
Add in the frozen tater tots, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, shredded cheese, and the remaining onion powder along with the garlic salt and ground black pepper.
Stir the ingredients until well blended.
Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour the ingredients into the casserole dish.
Place in the oven and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until completely warmed through with the cheese melted.
Carefully remove from the oven and serve hot. Enjoy!
Freezer Friendly Instructions:
Make everything according to the recipe and in step 5, place the casserole into a foil disposable cake or casserole pan but DO NOT bake!
Tightly cover the casserole with foil and label the top with the name of the casserole, the date, and the baking instructions.
Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to cook, remove the foil wrapping and place in the oven at 350F for 45-55 minutes or until completely cooked through and hot.
Serve and enjoy! Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
This Easy Tater Tot Casserole can also be topped with chili, jalapenos, and a drizzle of Ranch dressing to create a Deluxe Chili Cheese Tater Tots Casserole, reminiscent of what Sonic used to serve.
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